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March 27, 2021

How to Build an App Like Clubhouse: A Complete Guide

Learn the step-by-step process of building a successful audio-based social networking app, from ideation to monetization, in this comprehensive guide.

Mitya Smusin

Chief Executive Officer

Clubhouse has really made a fuss around the digital world. It’s hard to imagine a person who hasn’t heard about this app, celebrities who joined it, or pranksters who already managed to confuse the audience. Taking into account the skyrocketing popularity, a lot of people are now wondering how to make an app like Clubhouse, so it has become an urgent question in the software development business. 

Voice-only communication actually has the potential to win the audience’s attention. On the one hand, it adds more emotions to your speech than text, so users can avoid a lot of misunderstandings. On the other, it eliminates the anxiety some people can experience during video calls. No need to worry about your hairstyle anymore!

So, how to hop on a rising trend and build a drop-in audio chat app like Clubhouse? Here’s the answer.

What is Clubhouse

Let’s start with the Clubhouse itself. Clubhouse is an iOS voice-based social app where people communicate and discuss various topics of interest. All discussions are happening live without text messages and the possibility of recording the conversation.

The number of Clubhouse users skyrocketed in a recent couple of months: the analytics company Sensor Tower says that the app acquired 10 million installs at the beginning of February. The virality of this app is clearly seen on this chart:

What is Clubhouse

Additionally, according to Statista, the global number of weekly Clubhouse users is around 2 million, and the monthly number of downloads has grown to 9 million.

The app has become worth $100 million and is expected to value at $1 billion, which will make it another Unicorn startup, together with Airbnb and Uber. And that’s even without the Android version or public access!

Clubhouse features

Before learning how to build an app like Clubhouse, let’s take a look at its features.

Audio-based social networking

Clubhouse is primarily focused on audio networking and live conversations. Users can join virtual rooms where they can listen to and participate in discussions and conversations on various topics.

Rooms and conversations

Users can create and join "rooms" dedicated to specific topics or interests. In these rooms, moderators can invite speakers and listeners can participate by raising their hand to speak.

Clubs and communities

Clubhouse allows users to create and join clubs and communities centered around specific interests or themes. Clubs can host regular rooms and events, fostering a sense of belonging and shared interests.

Notifications and alerts

Users receive notifications when rooms or clubs they follow host new discussions or events. These notifications help users stay updated on topics and events of interest.

Moderation and privacy controls

Room moderators have the ability to control who can speak, mute users, and remove disruptive participants. Clubhouse also provides tools to report inappropriate content or behavior.

Profile customization

Users can customize their profiles with a profile picture, bio, and links to their social media profiles or websites. This allows others to learn more about them and their interests.

Invitations and access

Clubhouse initially used an invitation-only model, where existing users could invite new users to join the platform. This created a sense of exclusivity and controlled platform growth. However, it's possible that this model has evolved since my last update.

Direct messaging

Clubhouse offers a direct messaging feature, allowing users to send private messages to each other. This feature facilitates one-on-one communication and voice-based networking.

6 steps to build an app like Clubhouse

Now that we are done with making a shortlist of the app’s functions and necessary user roles, we can dive into development! Here is a little guide for you on what to do to create a new mobile audio platform:

Ideation and conceptualization

First of all, look at the market. What it offers to the public, who are the most popular participants, what niches they miss. Your future solution should be unique and solve real problems, so take your time to look at how competitors work and what slips out of their attention. Detailed research will help you define what can make you stand out from the crowd.

When you know what to offer the market, it’s time to define the target audience. The potential app’s users are the most influential factor for app development. The best way to find out if people really need your solution is to ask them directly. One-on-one interviews or short questionnaires will help you collect the most valuable insights on what people want.

If time is limited and there are no resources to conduct an interview, you can create buyer personas, and intuitive models of potential clients, and build a customer journey around them.

Technical requirements and infrastructure

Building an app like Clubhouse with audio-based social networking and real-time communication features requires a robust technical infrastructure. This includes server architecture capable of handling high volumes of concurrent audio streams, low-latency audio processing, and distribution across geographically distributed data centers for minimized lag. 

Additionally, integrating voice recognition and AI-driven content moderation tools is essential for maintaining content quality and user safety. Implementing a scalable backend system, user authentication, and data storage solutions while optimizing for mobile application performance is crucial.

Designing user experience

A prototype is a draft of the future product. It is a backbone, a set of black-and-white screenshots that shows the app’s main functionality.

The main goal of it is to make mistakes because if you make mistakes now, you won’t make them later. Fixing structural mistakes later can result in rebuilding the app’s entire architecture (which means more wasted time and money), while at the prototyping stage, you can solve the issues that have arisen with just a few quick clicks.

Read more about how to prototype right

Read more

Backend development and real-time communication

Backend development involves creating a robust and scalable infrastructure to support seamless audio streaming, user interactions, and data management. Real-time communication is typically achieved through WebSockets, which allow for bidirectional communication between clients (users' devices) and the server. When a user joins a room or starts a conversation, the server facilitates real-time audio streaming between participants by managing connections, broadcasting audio data, and synchronizing actions in the room.

Frontend development and interface implementation

To create a user interface for better user engagement, frontend engineers often leverage modern web and mobile development technologies. Frameworks like React Native or Flutter are commonly used for cross-platform development, allowing for code reusability across iOS and Android. Real-time updates, such as new room notifications and live chat messages, should be implemented to keep users engaged and informed. User interactions, like joining rooms or sending messages, should trigger immediate responses to maintain the real-time nature of the app.

Testing, launch, and iteration

Before launching the app, rigorous testing is essential to identify and resolve any bugs, usability issues, or performance bottlenecks. This includes functional testing to verify that all features work as intended, compatibility testing to ensure the app works well on various devices and operating systems, and load testing to assess its ability to handle high user traffic. 

The launch of an app like Clubhouse involves a strategic rollout plan. Initially, it may be beneficial to start with a limited user base or geographic region to test the app in a controlled environment. This allows engineers to monitor performance, gather user feedback, and make necessary adjustments before a broader release.

After the initial launch, the work continues with iterative development. User feedback and analytics data should drive ongoing improvements and feature enhancements. Regular updates should address bugs, optimize performance, and introduce new features based on user demands and emerging trends.

Our technology stack for developing a chat application like Clubhouse

Here is a list of technologies that will help you implement all desired features:

  • Voice and audio streaming —, AWS Live Streaming solutions, WebRTC (PubNub, Twilio services), Jitsi.

  • API hosting — Google Cloud, Firebase, Azure, Cloudflare

  • Storing profile information — AWS(S3), Google Cloud Storage, IBM Cloud Object Storage.

  • Security — Data Theorem.

  • Analytics — Amplitude, Firebase, AppsFlyer, App Annie.

The possible variants of the tech stack may vary depending on the app’s specification, but these solutions are the basis of a voice-based app.

How to monetize an app like Clubhouse

There are several popular ways to monetize a drop-in voice chat‬ app.

In-app purchases

Offer premium features or memberships for a fee. Users can pay for access to exclusive rooms, early event notifications, or special badges to showcase their status within the app.

Subscription model

This is the most popular monetization strategy for audio and streaming services. It offers a free trial period so that users can see if they like the app. Also, it’s good to create several plans for users to choose from based on which range of functions they want.

Virtual currency and gifts

Introducing a virtual currency within the app can allow users to purchase credits or tokens that they can use to send virtual gifts to content creators or speakers during discussions. These virtual gifts could include emojis, stickers, or other digital items. The app can take a percentage of the transaction as a commission. This model incentivizes creators to host engaging discussions and allows users to support their favorite content providers.

Sponsored rooms and events

Partner with brands and businesses to host sponsored rooms or events. These sponsors can pay for the opportunity to reach and engage with your user base. This can include product launches, Q&A sessions, or industry-specific discussions.

Premium features and upgrades

It combines the possibility to download the app for free and optionally upgrade it to the premium version with additional features. For a voice app, it can be increasing the number of participants or giving additional personalization tools.

Advertising and sponsorships

Implement targeted advertising within the app. Display ads can appear in various parts of the platform, such as in between rooms, in user feeds, or during event listings. Advertisers can pay for ad placements based on user demographics, interests, or behavior.

Partnerships and collaborations

Collaborate with other apps or platforms to cross-promote each other. This can include integrating features from complementary services or promoting events together. Revenue-sharing agreements can be established with partners.

Data monetization

While handling user data must be done carefully and in compliance with privacy regulations, aggregated and anonymized user data can be valuable for market research, trend analysis, and advertising targeting. You can sell access to this data to third-party advertisers or researchers, with a strong emphasis on user privacy and data security.

How much does it cost to build an app like Clubhouse?

Approximately, the costs of a voice-based app for social media or podcasts will start from $10,000-$30,000. The actual cost will depend on various factors like detailed specifications of the project, the number of specialists, and the desired functionality. Also, the complexity will influence the budget: an MVP will require fewer development hours than a full app with all the possible functions. 

Our team is ready to help you analyze your app idea and help you find the best ways to turn it into reality. 

To sum it up

Clubhouse recently made a lot of buzz on the Internet, and it opened a lot of business possibilities for software development. Still, if someone tries to offer the public just another version of Clubhouse, it won’t get the same recognition. To succeed in the voice-only software market, you should create something special, something that will address the audience’s needs.

Want to know how much it costs to develop an app like Clubhouse? Contact us to get a free estimate!

✅ How long does it take to build an app like Clubhouse?

Building an app like Clubhouse from scratch could take several months to a year, depending on factors like scope, features, user experience, scaling, and Infrastructure.

✅ What alternatives to Clubhouse are there on the market?

Community building apps include Spaces, which offers audio chat rooms integrated into the X platform, and Discord's Stage Channels, which provide a similar live audio conversation experience within Discord servers.

✅ What do I need to have prepared before approaching a development partner?

Before approaching a development partner, you should have a clear project concept, a detailed project scope or requirements document, and a budget in mind. It's also beneficial to have a rough timeline and an understanding of your target audience and market to effectively communicate your vision and goals.

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